Financial literacy and Indigenous Peoples: A new working group

June 21, 2018

By Jane Rooney, Canada’s Financial Literacy Leader

To mark National Indigenous Peoples Day this year, I’d like to share with you an exciting new initiative involving financial literacy and Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.

First, some background: during our consultations to create Canada’s National Strategy for Financial Literacy, Indigenous Peoples were identified as a priority group. We know that Indigenous Peoples face unique barriers to achieving financial well-being, according to research conducted by AFOA Canada (formerly Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada), as well as the results of the Canadian Financial Capability Survey (CFCS). In the most recent CFCS, 30 per cent of Canadians either struggled to keep up with bills, or were not keeping up at all. That number was 50 percent among Indigenous Peoples living off-reserve.

We also learned that these barriers need to be addressed by engaging and involving indigenous communities in the design, delivery and measurement of financial literacy interventions. Any initiatives must be community-driven, created for and with Indigenous Peoples.

To help address these learnings, in January 2018, FCAC convened a roundtable in Toronto on strengthening the financial literacy of Indigenous Peoples. During this meeting with Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations, we gauged the interest among participants to coordinate and collaborate on this issue.

I’m pleased to say the interest was high, and this spring my National Steering Committee and I unveiled a new working group that will assist in responding to the financial literacy needs of Indigenous Peoples. The working group will be co-chaired by myself and Simon Brascoupé of AFOA Canada.

This working group will build on the collective expertise of leaders from a broad representation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations. Many of its members have already delivered financial literacy programs to all ages, both on- and off-reserve. In the process, they’ve developed and tested educational content on topics like the basics of personal finances and financial planning. These experts will now share the information they’ve gathered, collaborate on developing new programs and initiatives, and identify research priorities. The group is also actively looking for resources that could be shared, and to broaden the reach of those resources, so that more Indigenous People can benefit. 

The formation of this working group represents a commitment to make significant progress on a key priority of our National Strategy for Financial Literacy. It’s a promising start. There will be more announcements on this file in the coming year and I look forward to updating you about them.

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